UPDATE: The Associated Press, citing officials in the Puerto Rican government, says nine people were aboard the plane. A local official in Savannah who spoke to the AP says there are apparently no survivors.
An official with the 165th Airlift Wing's Public Affairs office in Savannah would not confirm the number of casualties, but referred to an earlier Facebook post from that office saying five people were aboard.
Five people were killed Wednesday when an Air National Guard C-130 crashed in Port Wentworth near Savannah about 11:30 a.m., the Associated Press reports.
"(We) cannot confirm the number of souls on board," Senior Master Sgt. Roger Parsons of the Georgia Air National Guard said.
The Puerto Rico Air National Guard C-130 was headed to Arizona on a training mission. It crashed shortly after takeoff from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.
While performing a training mission, an U.S. C-130 "Hercules" cargo plane from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard crashed about 11:30 a.m. today near the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport with 5 people on board. (1/2)
— National Guard (@USNationalGuard) May 2, 2018
Witness Mark Jones told the Savannah Morning News he watched the crash and feared the plane could have landed on cars.
“I looked down and then looked back up and it didn’t look like it nosedived, but it almost looked like it stalled and just went almost flat right there in the middle of the highway.”
U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the crash devastating.
"There are no words for the victims’ families and our military community as they mourn the lives of their loved ones," Perdue said. "We can never forget the sacrifices our women and men in uniform make to provide for our national security.”
A spokeswoman for the Effingham County Sheriff's Office said several federal agencies are involved in the investigation and cleanup will be extensive.
"As far as we know, there were no cars hit in this crash," Gena Bilbo said at a news conference. "It is an absolute miracle."
Power in the area is shut off and traffic lights and trains were affected, Bilbo said. Several fires burned along the roadway after the crash. The entire area remained shut down as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.
"Highway 21 from Ga. 307 all the way to Gulf Stream Road is closed and it will be closed indefinitely," she said. "This could take weeks."
Motorists traveling north on Highway 21 are being detoured onto Ga. 307 North, then west on the Jimmy Deloach Connector to the Sonny Dixon Interchange back to Highway 21, where the detour ends, according to the Georgia Ports Authority.
Motorists traveling south on Highway 21 are being detoured onto Sonny Dixon Interchange to Jimmy Deloach Connector, then east to Ga. 307 South back to Highway 21, where the detour ends.
Truck gates at Garden City Terminal have not been affected, the Authority said.
The Department of Transportation will have to evaluate the roads before anything reopens.
"All we can do right now is try to mitigate it the best we can, and say a prayer for the families of the people that were involved," Bilbo said.
The governor or Puerto Rico also shared his condolences via Twitter.
Mientras estamos a la espera de mayor información con relación a este lamentable accidente, mis pensamientos y los de Beatriz están con las familias de los tripulantes. Recibirán nuestro apoyo y el de la Guardia Nacional de Puerto Rico en este proceso. pic.twitter.com/3m9ci84KDY
— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) May 2, 2018